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NHS patient database goes titsup

CSC disaster brings more woe for NPfIT

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The database that stores vital medical information on millions of NHS patients crashed last week.

Outsourcing giant CSC, which won a £973m contract to run part of the Care Records system in 2003 and has picked up more contracts since, was forced to invoke disaster recovery when hospitals and local surgeries were unable to access it last Tuesday.

CSC is responsible for Care Records in the North, Midlands and Eastern regions.

The firm said: "There was a temporary loss of services to a small number of Trusts within our region on 10th February 2009. Service was resumed during the course of the day, there was no loss of patient data and there was no impact to patient care."

Care records databases for other regions are run by BT. Accenture and Fujitsu, which originally won regional contracts, both pulled out, in 2006 and 2008 respectively.

In January this year the public accounts committee recommended the government ditches the heavily delayed Care Records system, a keystone of the struggling national Programme for IT, if it is not fully up and running within six months.

"The original aim was for the systems to be fully implemented by 2010," chairman Edward Leigh said. "The truth is that, while some are complete or well advanced the major ones, such as the Care Records systems, are way off the pace."

Now it seems even the parts of the Care Records system that are in place are prone to disaster. ®

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